LUCINDA LAMBTON HAILS IMMINENT RESTORATION OF HADLOW TOWER
The Vivat Trust's annual lecture will be held on Tuesday 30 October 2012 at St Paul's Knightsbridge to showcase its most ambitious restoration project to date.
Lucinda Lambton, writer, photographer, and broadcaster, will give her inimitable take on extraordinary buildings and their curious charms, including Hadlow Tower; while conservation architect, Paul Sharrock, will focus on the restoration and repair of this most unusual building.
Hadlow Tower is Grade I listed and was long deemed a "Building at Risk". Based on Beckford's Folly, the tower is the tallest surviving folly in the UK. It was built in 1838, as part of Hadlow Castle, by Walter Barton May who inherited the building project from his father. Shortly after its completion the ornate lantern was added taking the tower to 53 metres high - dominating the Kent plains around and becoming a well-known landmark for the area and county.
In 1951 it was saved from demolition by the portrait painter, Bernard Hailstone, while the rest of the castle was dismantled. Following years of neglect, storm damage and controlled down-takings, the tower had become an unadorned stump.
Following confirmation of a compulsory purchase order in March 2008, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council took the building into their ownership and subsequently entered into a back to back agreement with the Vivat Trust.
Built of brick and clad in a roman cement render, the exterior of the tower was originally richly adorned with intricate Gothic revival ornamentation made from pre-cast roman cement. Roman cement was developed in Kent in the 1780s. Whilst the tradition of using this material has fallen out of use in this country, it has continued on the continent. Materials for this project are being imported from France.
The project, including the replacement of the lantern, began in February 2011, with completion scheduled for spring 2013. The Tower will be given new life as a Vivat holiday property with public exhibition space on the ground floor which is being organised by the SAVE Hadlow Tower Action Group.
Tickets are £20 and can be purchased by completing the application form and returning it to the Vivat Trust, The Garden Barn, Wellbrook Manor, Peterchurch, Hereford, HR2 0SS.